Thursday, December 22, 2005

Order in the Court

It could get pretty crazy sometimes in the hallways of the Albany County Courthouse. If something big was going on, you could easily have five TV news photogs, several print photographers, and eight or nine reporters running around ---and that's not counting all the sheriff's deputies surrounding the center of attention, family members, lawyers on both get the picture. Just look how chaotic things were during the various Porco appearances.

Anyway, that won't be happening on the other side of Lodge Street in the county's new Justice Building. Now, sheriff's vans will drive the accused directly into an enclosed area, where they'll be whisked off to secure, private holding areas. Project manager and architect Jay Quackenbush told the TU's Carol DeMare in October, "You will never see a prisoner until that prisoner is in the courtroom." I've always had mixed feelings about the way we display people accused of crimes, shackled and marching around in orange jumpsuits. If a picture's worth a thousand words, these pictures summon up one word a thousand times: guilty. And yes, many of them are guilty, but they deserve the presumption of innocence ---even in the late news promo.

Speaking of the Porco case, this new arrangement might have spared Joan Porco from having to walk the gauntlet when she appeared in court at her son's November bail hearing. That was easily the year's most awkward and disturbing image.